Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

San Diego Opera Presents a Tragic Madama Butterfly

On April 16, 2016, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s sixth opera, Madama Butterfly, in an intriguing production by Garnett Bruce. Roberto Oswald’s scenery included the usual Japanese styled house with many sliding doors and walls. On either side, however, were blooming cherry trees with rough trunks and gnarled branches that looked as though they had been growing on the property for a hundred years.

Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde

New Co-Production Tristan und Isolde with Metropolitan: Simon Rattle and Westbroek electrify Treliński’s Opera-Noir.

San Jose’s Smooth Streetcar Ride

In an operatic world crowded with sure-fire bread and butter repertoire, Opera San Jose has boldly chosen to lavish a new production on a dark horse, Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Roméo et Juliette: Dutch National Opera and Ballet seal merger with leaden Berlioz

Choral symphony, oratorio, symphonic poem — Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette does not fit into any mould. It has the potential to work as an opera-ballet, but incoherent storytelling and uninspired conducting undermined this production.

Donizetti : Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera House

When Kasper Holten took the precaution of pre-warning ticket-holders that the Royal Opera House’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor featured scene portraying ‘sexual acts’ and ‘violence’, one assumed that he was aiming to avert a re-run of the jeering and hectoring that accompanied last season’s Guillaume Tell. He even went so far as to offer concerned patrons a refund.

Five Reviews of Regina at Maryland Opera Studio

These are five very different reviews by students at the University of Maryland on its Opera Studio production of Regina — an interesting, informative and entertaining read . . .

Three Cheers for the English Touring Opera

‘Remember me, the one who is Pia;/ Siena made me, Maremma undid me.’ The speaker is Pia de’ Tolomei. She appears in a brief episode of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio V, 130-136) which was the source for Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei - by way of Bartolomeo Sestini’s verse-novella of 1825.

Andriessen's De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory

"The large measure of formalism which forms the basis of De Materie does not in itself offer any guarantee that the work will be beautiful," says Dutch composer Louis Andriessen of his four-movement opera.

Falstaff Makes a Big Splash in Phoenix

On April 1, 2016, Arizona Opera presented Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) in Phoenix. Although Boito based most of his libretto on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he used material from Henry IV as well. Verdi wrote the music when he was close to the age of eighty. He was concerned about his ability at that advanced age, but he was immensely pleased with Boito’s text and decided to compose his second comedy, despite the fact that his first, Un giorno di regno, had not been successful.

Svadba in San Francisco

The brand new SF Opera Lab opened last month with artist William Kentridge’s staged Schubert Winterreise. Its second production just now, Svadba-Wedding — an a cappella opera for six female voices — unabashedly exposes the space in a different, non-theatrical configuration.

Benvenuto Cellini in Rome

One may think of Tosca as the most Roman of all operas, after all it has been performed at the Teatro Costanzi (Rome’s opera house) well over a thousand times since 1900. Though equally, maybe even more Roman is Hector Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini that has had only a dozen or so performances in Rome since 1838.

New from Opera Rara : Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe

Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara - Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.

Handel : Elpidia - Opera Settecento

Roll up! A new opera by Handel is to be performed, L’Elpidia overo li rivali generosi. It is based upon a libretto by Apostolo Zeno with music by Leonardo Vinci - excepting a couple of arias by Giuseppe Orlandini and, additionally, two from Antonio Lotti’s Teofane (which the star bass, Giuseppe Maria Boschi , on bringing with him from the Dresden production of 1719).

Roberto Devereux in Genova

Radvanovsky in New York, Devia in Genoa — Donizetti queens are indeed in the news! Just now in Genoa Mariella Devia was the Elizabeth I for her beloved Roberto Devereux in a new trilogy of Donizetti queens (Maria Stuarda and Anne Bolena) directed by baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Opera

‘All men become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’ ‘Is that clever?’ ‘It is perfectly phrased!’

Mahler’s Third, Concertgebouw

Evolving in Mahler’s Third: Dudamel and L.A. Philharmonic’s impressive adaption to the Concertgebouw

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Andreas Scholl
17 Jun 2009

Andreas Scholl at Wigmore Hall

Strikes on the London Underground system may have made this a particularly exhausting and exasperating week for Londoners, but despite these wearing adversities Friday evening saw an eager crowd flock to the Wigmore Hall, in excited anticipation of an inspiring and invigorating blend of the familiar and the unfamiliar — and they were not disappointed.

Andreas Scholl at Wigmore Hall

Andreas Scholl countertenor. Shield of Harmony: Crawford Young lute, director; Kathleen Dineen voice harp; Margit Übellacker dulce melos; Marc Lewon vielle, lute, checker. Wigmore Hall, London.

Above: Andreas Scholl

 

Scholl’s exquisite tonal beauty and superb clarity of diction are well-known to, and relished by, lovers of song, and both were much in evidence here. But few in the audience can have been familiar with the songs of the fifteenth-century German composer, Oswald von Wolkenstein, or with the startling timbral blend of the voices and instruments of the ensemble, Shield of Harmony — although after this stunning performance there is no doubt they will be eager for more.

Oswald von Wolkenstein was a poet, musician, nobleman and diplomat. An aristocrat, he was deeply involved in the political events of his time; moreover, travels in Europe, from the early age of 10, exposed him to an eclectic range of musical influences. In particular he absorbed the sophistications and developments of French song and incorporated troubadour idioms from the Romance languages into the German court context, revolutionising the German tradition.

His songs reflect the variety of his life; indeed, mimicking the songs of the early troubadours, they provide an autobiographical passage through his travels, exploits, loves and careers, spiced with philosophical ruminations, political observations and humorous drolleries. Typical of the period, the sacred blended subtly with the sexual. This recital presented a variety of forms, long narratives interspersed with shorter lyrics and instrumental solos.

Scholl’s enunciation was superlative throughout. Indeed, there is a spoken quality to many of these songs — Spruchdichtung — forming a continuum with Wolkenstein’s poetry, and reflecting the unity of poetry and song in this period. Like a story-teller, Scholl enhanced the narrative effect by occasionally beginning with a spoken introduction which evolved naturally into song - as in ‘Es fuegt sich’ (‘It happened’), whose three parts formed a framework for the recital. Here Scholl deftly recreated Wolkenstein’s character, telling of his travels in distant lands, his musical, mercantile and military accomplishments, and his amorous adventures.

Scholl’s voice was unfailingly sweet and warm, never cloying, and loveliest in the upper range, as in one of the evening’s highlights, ‘Herz, müt, leib’ (‘Heart, mind, body’). His soothed and lured the audience, drawing them into his tale: we celebrated his pride and success - ‘Many a wise man has valued my advice,/ like my tuneful songs’ - and laughed at his mischievous opportunism: ‘Many things then came easily,/ when I wore the monk’s hood,/ in truth, never before or after were girls so friendly, as they listened to my chatter’.

And we experienced the intensity of his passion — his anguish and yearning for transfiguration being worthy of a Schubert lied:

‘When I’m with her, I lose my equilibrium,
because of a woman I must travel a bad road,
into the wilds, until her dislike mercifully vanishes;
if she would help me, my sadness would become bliss.’ (‘Es fuegt sich’, part 2)

Most of Wolkenstein’s songs are monophonic, but Scholl was joined by Kathleen Dineen in two duets, ‘Ach senliches leiden’ (‘Alas heartfelt pain’) and the mesmerising ‘Nu rue mit sorgen’ (‘Now rest from your cares’), in which the exquisite union of these two unaffected voices effortlessly conveyed the erotic charge of the text and the poignancy of loss and pain.

The instrumental pieces provided variety and charm, the players of Shield of Harmony demonstrating considerable rhythmic dexterity and delighting in the complex, simultaneous use of duple and triple rhythms.

So hypnotising was this performance that I suspect many in the audience, like this listener, failed to notice when Scholl slipped effortlessly to a baritone voice for final song.

Scholl and Shield of Harmony demonstrated total mastery of this material: golden voices appropriate to this golden age of German minnesang.

Claire Seymour

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):